“Messenger of Hope” in South Wales and a heartfelt greeting from Cwmgiedd 

    On Saturday 27th of June, the inhabitants of Cwmgiedd and surrounding area gathered in front of the former butcher’s shop of Mr Eddie Thomas - protagonist of Humprey Jenning’s film, “The Silent Village.”

    The connection between Lidice and Cwmgiedd can be found under the following link.

    Opposite the mentioned shop we solemnly unveiled the already planted daughter of the Lidice Pear Tree, it is the eighth sapling planted under the Citizens Association of Lidice's project “Messenger of Hope”, however it is the first one planted abroad.

    A welcome speech was given by Mr John Owens, Treasurer of the Ystradgynlais District Heritage and Language Society, then Arwel Michael, the Chairman of the mentioned society, talked about the connection between Lidice and Cwmgiedd.

    My task then was to explain the legacy of the Lidice Pear Tree and to unveil the sapling.

    Mr Huw Williams, Powys County Councillor then talked about the importance of international friendship and Mr Aneirin Davies, Chairman of the Ystradgynlais town council concluded the ceremony with his speech.

    The weather was kind to us and over fifty people attended, amongst which there were some who participated in the film “Silent Village”, for instance Ms Anita Herbert and sisters Megan Alexander and Cynthia Mullen. Mr Arwel Michael also took part in the film as a small child at that time.

    After a fourteen year gap I had the pleasure to meet again with former head master of Cynlais school Mr. Ogwyn Phillips and former deputy head teacher Ms Jennifer Davies.
    In the intervening period the school had closed and the beautiful mural with the theme of Lidice and Cwmgiedd made by its pupils had been relocated to the Miners Welfare Hall in Ystradgynlais with a help of the Ystradgynlais District Heritage and Language Society.

    And to the Miners Welfare Hall is where we all went to talk after the pear tree ceremony had finished.

    The film “Silent Village” was also screened there, local inhabitants keep reminding themselves of the Lidice tragedy and also they remember their ancestors and their own youth.
    There was deafening silence in the hall during the part which imitates the village being razed to ground and quite a few eyes filled up with tears.
    Silent Village is still very a current and moving topic. even after seventy three years.
    I then spoke individually to all present in order to hand out the commemorative cards with the current picture of the Lidice Pear Tree.

    Apart from greetings from the Citizens Association of Lidice, I presented both books about Lidice written by E. Stehlík, post cards of the Lidice Pear Tree with English text and a DVD of the film “If I were a boy, I would not survive” to the Ystradgynlais District Heritage and Language Society.
    The above named society, amongst other projects has contributed to the placement of five information boards around Cwmgiedd, describing local history. One of them, which explains the connection between Lidice and South Wales, is located right next to the newly planted pear tree sapling.
    It is very pleasing how the people of Cwmgiedd and its surrounding area keep the history of Lidice alive, and their unflagging interest in this topic and compassion with the survivors of the tragedy.
    I received a very warm welcome from everyone, and it was an honour for me to take part in such significant international meeting with incredibly kind and selfless people.
    I was asked to pass on their hearty greetings to all of Lidice’s citizens and am therefore doing so.
    We have many friends and supporters in South Wales, in the village named Cwmgiedd and its surrounding area.

    I would like to especially thank Arwel, his wife Pat, and their family for help with transport, the planting of the pear tree, and providing me with very comfortable accommodation, and thanks also to their friends Bethan and Darrell who made me feel very welcome too.

Pavla Nešpor Bellisová
Member of the Citizens Association of Lidice
p.s.: The pear tree sapling was transported from the Czech Republic to Cwmgiedd by Arwel Michael and his wife Pat and planted the next day by Arwel Michael, John Owens and Huw Williams. That was on the 1st of June and rain was pouring down. Despite that, it can be seen in the photographs how happy they all are that they have the pear tree planted and that it survived being transported from the continent.
   Editorial note:
Postscript to long-standing friendship between the citizens of Lidice and Cwmgiedd. During the time when Mr. Václav Zelenka was a major of Lidice (around the year 2000), a painting was given to him from the citizens of this Welsh village as a gesture of respect. This painting was and is still hung in the hallway of the Lidice’s Village Council.

Edited by Antonín Nešpor
Photos courtesy of Pavla Nešpor Bellisová, Arwel Michael and John Rees
Translated by Pavla Nešpor Bellisová and Rob Nešpor Bellis